Stevita Co. - Arlington Texas
Contact: Mary Stoddard 214-352-4268

Summer 1996
Imported first shipment of Stevia spoonful (blend of stefioside and maltodextrin) with registered trade name of STEVIASWEET. FDA office in Dallas detained the shipment of approximately 3,000 jars saying that we could not use the trade name STEVIASWEET because the word SWEET on the name implied that stevia could be used as a sugar substitute. Changed the labels (at American Airlines warehouse) to STEVITA brand. Products with new labels released.

Early 1997
Started importing Stevita chocolate flavored and Stevita cappuccino flavored. First shipments passed through customs with no problems. Around October, 1997, a shipment of Stevita cappuccino flavored was detained by FDA. They claimed we were selling coffee instead of Stevia. We submitted a new label (MAGIC) that removed the word coffee. After changing all the labels (about 5,000) the shipment was released.

November 12, 1997
FDA inspectors, Martha Baldwin and Pauline Logan inspected Stevita facilities and took samples of the books and some scientific literature.

March 6, 1998
Received warning letter from FDA saying the presence of literature, including the information on our website, was rendering the stevia products “adulterated.” Stevita Co. was given 5 days to reply. James Turner’s office (Swanken & Turner lawfirm) requested a 15 day extension.

March 26, 1998
James Turner’s office submitted an answer to the Warning Letter from FDA, agreeing with all the requests, with the exception of the destruction of the books and cessation of Stevita product sales.

April 1, 1998
Two shipments that had been detained by FDA had labels approved by FDA in Washington D.C.. However, Mr. James R. LaHar of the Dallas District office orders the shipments to continue being put on hold, because in his opinion, our product is now contaminated by current literature already in circulation.

April 27, 1998
FDA Inspector, Martha Baldwin inspected Stevita’s facilities and collected labels and documents. She also took an inventory of Stevita Co.’s products. In desperation to get the shipments released by FDA, Oscar Rodes told Stevita Co. attorney, James Turner to inform FDA that as of May 13 we were ceasing distribution of all the books.

May 19, 1998 (9:00 AM)
A fax was received from James R. LaHar, Compliance Officer in the Dallas District Office of FDA, stating that “investigators from his office were coming to Stevita’s facilities to witness destruction of the literature and books.

May 19, 1998 (11:30 AM)
FDA inspectors, Pauline Logan and Margarito Uribe walked into the office. They proceeded to take inventory of all products and literature. Oscar Rodes believed they were sent by Mr. LaHar to witness destruction of all the books. Stevita Co. employees videotaped most of the “inspection” - including the part when one of the inspectors is “marking” the cookbooks (Cooking With Stevia by James Kirkland) for destruction.

May 20, 1998
Both inspectors return to Stevita’s facilities for more inspection and counting of inventory.

May 22, 1998
Both inspectors arrive again at Stevita Co. at 3/30 PM - asking Oscar Rodes to sign some typewritten affidavits. They also told me they wanted to “look around.”

June 6, 1998
Cookbook author, James Kirkland presented his “banned book” at a Town Hall Meeting in Arlington Texas, conducted by Congressman, Joe Barton (Chairman of Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee in Washington) who oversees the Food and Drug Administration. Media covered the event and that evening the CBS TV News affiliate in Dallas aired a story showing the “banned books” and telling the Stevita Co. story of harassment by FDA. This news segment was picked up by other CBS affiliates and aired around the U.S..